Tips for Dealing with a Rebellious Teen

Jan 9, 2015


If you are the parent of a teenager, at some point you are probably going to encounter some rebellious behavior. Unfortunately, children don’t come with an instruction manual and raising them is often a learn as you go process. Here are a few suggestions to help you through these bumpy times.

First of all, I hope that you read this article before your children become teenagers. If parents start training their children early on with loving discipline, the teenage years can usually be more easily managed. Our goal as parents should be to raise responsible adults, not good kids. If we have this end goal in mind, it is much more likely that we will help our children develop the kinds of social and emotional skills that are going to help them succeed in life. I believe people will approach parenting differently if they focus on helping their children develop skills that will help them become a productive member of society.

When our children are young, the very worst thing that a parent can do is ignore bad behavior. If children are allowed to disobey, defy, and ignore their parents when they are little, guess what they are going to do as they get older? They are going to continue disobeying, defying, and ignoring you. It will just be over more serious issues. Mold their will while they are young and you probably will not have major issues with your children when they are older.

If you do have a teenager that has either not been raised with discipline, or has chosen to ignore it and defy their parents, there are some concrete steps that the parents can take to bring them under control. I am going to assume that other methods of discipline and discussions with the teen have gotten nowhere. The first step that I would reccomend is to start taking away everything extra that the parents have given them. This can include their cell phone, car, computer, television, stereo, etc. If the teenager did not purchase these things themselves with money they earned, take them all away. This can be done progressively or all at once if the behavior is really out-of-control.

After the rebellious teenager has been relieved of all the “stuff'” that their parents have so graciously given them, it will be time have a heart-to-heart chat. You will probably have their attention at this point. The “stuff” that you relieved them of can be given back to the teen as their behavior changes. If the behavior doesn’t change, give some of the items to your local Goodwill.

While this sounds a bit extreme, I have given this advice to numerous parents. Those that have done what I suggested and followed through, got their teen’s attention and were able to bring about some significant behavioral changes. In other cases, parents have also taken away their teens privileges, such as spending time with friends or participating in special activities. What the parent has to make clear to the rebellious child is that the child is the one that is responsible for losing their “stuff” and their privileges. By changing their behavior, they can begin to have privileges reinstated.

When a child turns eighteen years old, the parents have fulfilled their legal responsibility to them. If the adult child still persists in rebelling against their parents, the best thing that the parents can do is to ask them to leave. If the adult child is only going to make their parents’ lives miserable, it is time for that eighteen year old to find somewhere else to live.

I know that this is hard medicine. Dr. James Dobson refers to it as “Tough Love.” At the same time, why would any parent want to put up with the stress, frustration, aggravation, and drama that an adult child can provide? I have had more than one parent tell me that this was one of the best moves that they ever made. By putting their problem-causing adult child out of the house, the parent’s quality of life has increased dramatically. And in the long run, it is good for the adult child as well. It is forcing them to grow up, take responsibility for their own life, and become a full-fledged adult.

Annie and I are serving the Lord in Brazil. We are training leaders and helping plant churches. We would love for you to be a part of our team. Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!

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